What if it Happens, for YouSep 03, 2023
"Dance training can't be separate from life training. Everything that comes into our lives is training. The qualities we admire in great dancing are the same qualities we admire in human beings: honesty, courage, fearlessness, generosity, wisdom, depth, compassion and humanity."
- Alonzo King
Since I was a little girl, I knew I wanted to become a dancer. It’s all I saw, all I wanted and all I believed in. Choosing dance as a career is not an easy road to take. Besides all the training, investments and truly living the most insecure life ever, it’s also a career where not many respect you, don’t take your job seriously, make you feel replaceable, treat you like a number, and it involves many sacrifices. Also, it’s physically hard on the body, mentally and emotionally challenging, hard work, painful, there’s a lot of rejection, and, most of all… it doesn’t pay very well. Yet, we love our craft so much that it’s worth all of this and all of the risks. The moment I dance, or am on stage, none of it matters, and instantly, all the sacrifices were worth it for creating that special moment – that moment which makes me feel so at peace and full of joy.
Dancers are the most incredible kind of humans, if you ask me. We train like athletes, think like artists, are resilient like doctors and trust like believers. Becoming a dancer for your career isn’t easy but it ain’t impossible. I can proudly say that for the past 15 years, I’ve had a pretty successful career as a dancer. I’ve traveled the world and performed more than 3000 times in different arenas and theatres all around this planet. My dance journey has truly become my life's journey.
Unfortunately, this dancer’s life can be very inconsistent, so a lot of times in between gigs, I worked for short periods in hospitality to keep the ‘cashflow’ going. That said, hospitality is another career which is looked down on way too much. Not to toot my own horn here, but I’m pretty much a hospitality beast! This job isn’t as easy as people think, when done properly, and you actually need some damn good skills to do this job well. On top of this, I’ve actually learned many life skills through working in bars, restaurants and clubs.
Through hospitality, I’ve learned how to:
- be of service (feels great!)
- be confrontational (“I’m sorry you don’t like this table but unfortunately this is all that’s available right now.”)
- work hard (12 hours straight – no breaks and until early sunrises)
- train my brain to memorize well (different recipes and orders)
- be strong (continue walking, standing, moving, holding four plates or shaking cocktails all night ain’t easy)
- be resilient (“What do you mean there is no delivery of those items and we’re opening in 2 minutes?”)
- be empathic (listening to everybody and their mom’s life stories)
- move with purpose and flow (everybody wants their needs met in 1 minute)
- make people happy (give them the best experience of their life)
Yet again another job which is super underpaid and underestimated. Sometimes I feel like life has given me these two career paths so I can shine a light on the fact that these occupations deserve so much more respect than the culture and communities are giving them at the moment. You can disagree, but we all know this is massively visible in the paychecks, which are major underpaid, and the people are often times undervalued.
Therefore, may this be your reminder that tips are a huge gift for people, and truly, through adding some extra dollars to the bill, you have no idea how much you’re helping somebody and how much your support is appreciated.
I read not so long ago on the gram that whenever you experience (any kind of) trauma and this trauma causes you to be stronger, it is called post-traumatic growth (PTG) instead of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTG happens to people who experience (any kind of) trauma and the trauma includes a deepened spiritual life, a new appreciation of life, a vision of new possibilities and/or a positive change.
You may wonder why I’m mentioning this, as you might think this has nothing to do with a career in art or hospitality, but a while ago, I was working in hospitality and something horrible* yet amazing happened. I came to work and found out that some people had called in sick. This meant that for an entire restaurant with about 40 tables (120 seats) it was just me as the waitress and my one bartender (and two people in the kitchen). Long story short –we were understaffed and it was an absolute nightmare!
Within 4 hours, I wasn’t just a waitress but I became the host, bar back, runner, dishwasher AND waitress all at the same time. I was all over the place. I was running my legs off, my mind was working overtime trying to memorize everything, and emotionally I was truly drained, trying to keep everyone happy when nobody had any sympathy for the situation and only cared about if their food made it on time. I was exhausted, drained and truly wanted to quit many times within that moment. I wanted to disappear and drop everything I was holding, as this was truly a job for five instead of one person. It was so hard, yet I kept telling myself: just keep going, as at some point, this will all be over and they will be gone. Just keep going and doing your best, is what I told myself. In the end, that’s all I can do, right?
After I survived this nightmare, this experience truly felt like it kind of traumatized me and I was pretty sure this event could potentially cause me PTSD (I was truly in fight or flight modus all night). It wasn’t until I finished and finally had a chance to sit down and count my tips that I suddenly had the biggest realization.
The following week, I wasn’t able to work in the restaurant because of other obligations. (I truly sometimes live 18 different lives at once.) And, while I counted my tips, I realized my tips were exactly double the amount I normally would make in one night. And right within that moment, my potential PTSD turned into PTG.
I realized that, indeed, sometimes life becomes a nightmare. When you’re in it, it feels like the world is sitting on top of you. Everything feels unfair; you physically, mentally, emotionally feel so stretched and almost like you won’t be able to make it. Yet life always gives you nothing more than you can handle. No matter how many times I wanted to throw the towel in the ring that night, I kept pushing and delivering, and I made it through. And suddenly, it hit me!
Even when you feel like life is against you, it is always working for you. Yes, I had to unexpectedly work my butt off for hours and it felt like life was against me and was so unfair. Yet, the moment I realized that I made double the amount of tips that night, also knowing I wouldn’t make it to work the following week for that shift... I knew I was supported! Right within that moment, I realized all of this was happening FOR me and not against me. I made double the money; in other words, I wouldn’t miss out on any finances, even though I worked one day less the following week.
I felt spiritually so supported that night. All my stress, exhaustion, irritation, and feelings of unfairness disappeared instantly and turned into this massive feeling of gratitude. I was grateful for the realization, for the support, for the strength (mentally and physically) to push through, and mostly for life itself. Once you learn to train your mind to truly see every experience as a lesson of life, life becomes so beautiful.
I hope this story encourages you to trust and believe that whenever you are going through a chapter when life feels against you, when life feels so hard and so unfair, when life is truly testing you in the most insane ways... to hold on, to stay present, to trust that the sun will shine again, and to believe that there will come a moment in time when you realize that even the hardship was happening for you and not against you. There's a learning lesson in every chapter of life. It doesn’t always feel like this in the moment, but as long as you do your best, hold on, trust and pull through, you will realize sooner rather than later that even some of the worst situations were for your best interest. You never get anything on your plate you can’t handle, and once you’re able to look at life this way, you can truly train yourself to turn trauma which could possibly lead to PTSD into PTG. I truly wish this for you. I hope you’re able to learn and practice this skill, as this will truly be the best gift to yourself. It will change your perspective of each experience.
It will change your life.
Are you ready to feel empowered to follow your own heart?
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